July 4 ruminations

Chuck Stringer called me from Billings, Montana. He stole his neighbor’s plastic pink flamingo and has been driving across the country and taking pictures of it at national monuments and stuff. When I drove the same route, I didn’t sleep, and I blacked out but kept driving at some point past Spokane. It was the 4th of July and I was hoping to get to Seattle in time for the fireworks.

That was 1995. On July 4, 1993, I was driving my mom’s stationwagon filled with the remainder of my belongings at the 414 South Mitchell apartment in Bloomington. I was headed to Elkhart, and somewhere around Kokomo, I saw a burst of fireworks, and thought of the year before.

It was so weird leaving that apartment. I spent 2 years in that closet of a roominghouse flat. After everything was in the car, I sat on my favorite wooden chair (that I forgot!) and looked at the dirty, wooden paneled bedroom. It looked just like the day I moved in in 1991, but so much had happened. My dating life did a full 180 at least 4 or 5 times, I listened to music, Ray slept on the floor, I froze, I sweated, and bees crawled through the ceiling and evaded three different exterminators.

My phone line was still hooked up that weekend, but I had to bring a phone with me. My girlfriend called me from Florida and woke me up on Saturday morning. I thought she was over in Willkie quad and I told her to come over before I realized she was 1200 miles away.

The year before, Yusef and I drove to Zionsville to sell glowsticks at the fireworks show. We sold almost all of them in about 5 minutes. We left right after the fireworks started and hauled ass to get to a carnival before it got too crowded. We didn’t sell them as fast at the carnival; rednecks populated this carnival, not the rich lawyers and doctors at the Zionsville fireworks show. We had to work people for every sale, and put up with the ridicule of drunken 17 year olds or drunken 37 year olds acting like 17 year olds.

I got dumped by someone at the beginning of summer, and spent two months failing miserably at dating and meeting new people. I watched all of the couples in love walking the concourses, playing the games where you win big teddy bears, buying elephant ears and eating them together. This was the part of Indiana where bringing your girlfriend to the county fair would get you laid every time. Not only was I alone, but I was working as a street vendor, one of the most demeaning jobs that didn’t involve shoveling shit or holding a “Will work for food” sign.

And I heard Metallica’s “black” album constantly that night. The people running the tilt-a-whirl or the gravitron or one of those rides kept playing it over and over. It was the anthem to the whole event.

It felt demeaning putting up with these peoples’ shit. Every time some redneck started with the power trip, I felt like telling them that I was halfway done with a computer science degree, had all of my teeth, and was holding $2500 in ones and fives in my pocket.

I took that money and one Saturday when I was depressed, this little freshman girl called me up and wanted me to buy her alcohol. I bought a fifth of Bacardi black rum and drank most of it myself in about an hour. Someone called and didn’t leave a message, so I called almost everyone I knew, trying to find out if it was them. I kept calling people after I blacked out, and a bunch of people called me the next Sunday to see if I was okay – people I didn’t remember calling.

While I was hung over, I bought the Ice-T “Cop Killer” album, a new pair of sunglasses, and did my laundry. I met up with Leslie Puccinelli while I was at the laundry on 3rd street, across from Jerry’s Liquor’s.

Yusef used to walk to Jerry’s Liquor, buy a 40, and drink it on the walk home. One time me, him, and Derik rented a VCR from Sun Coast, along with all of those Chucky movies. We hooked it up to a black and white 12″ tv, and then realized we needed to get fucked up first. We got into my car and on the hill just before 3rd street, a tire blew out on my Rabbit.

The spring before, Patty and I were at my apartment, and we woke up at like 5 so she could get to her dorm, get ready, take a shower, and walk to her 8:00 music class. It was March and in the 60s that night, but when we went outside, there was a foot of snow on the ground. I offered to drive her home, but when we got to my car, the passenger door wouldn’t open – I had to pry it open. Then, it wouldn’t shut – the latch caught on about the 15th slam. When we were driving up the hill, the door flew open and a sea of moving white and ice and powder appeared and lit the car like a supernova. She grabbed the handle and held the door shut, but on the drive home, the door flew open and shut on every turn.

On the 4th of July weekend, 1991, I was with Jo in Chicago and the same Rabbit got hung up on a manhole cover that ripped off the entire exhaust. We cancelled the reservations, stayed with a friend of hers, and got a new Meineke exhaust for about $160.

I took the Rabbit to Meineke two more times – once when it needed a new flex pipe in the exhaust, which cost about $120, and once when it finally died. The brakes went out, and the frame was so rusted that they couldn’t lift the car on the rack.

Once I was at that laundry on 3rd street with Racquel’s car. I made her a deal that I would wash her car if I could use it to drive to the laundry and do some other shopping. I scraped the spoiler part on the underside of the car, but she never saw it, so I never told her. It’s the part that gets scraped up anyway from the parking lot dividers. I also listened to Cannibal Corpse’s _Tomb of the Mutilated_ while I was driving around town.

Later, I was in the same part of town with her and we went to some kind of company event where there was a generic 50’s band and some catered stuff. It might have been the kind of thing where you buy tickets for $20 and the proceeds to to some schmuck who needs a new kidney. We walked around before then and she gave me a toy puzzle that was made out of a few pieces of metal and a string and you had to move one piece over the other on the string or something.

Come to think about it, I guess some other stuff happened that night, but maybe I should check my diary.

In 1991, Becky gave me a leatherbound diary for Christmas. She destroyed my entire room after we broke up, including my diary. I wrote a bunch of stuff in it the first week, like how I wanted to break up with Jo and how it was good to be with Tom again, even though he lost a bunch of weight in China and now looked like some kind of Vietnam POW from a Rambo movie.

And then I wrote a parser for an adventure game in modula 2, on an IBM-PC with only one 5.25″ floppy drive. And I bought a new keyboard, and I drove on the new US-20 bypass, and I thought about how things would change once I got back to school.


New C64

Since I quit caffeine, I sleep right through the night and never wake up or sleep lightly, which means I also never remember any of my dreams. The other night I was reading John Fail’s weird dream journal, and then when I slept, I remembered an abnormal dream. I wrote it all down, but I don’t remember what it was now. Thismorning, I almost remembered part of a dream, but I couldn’t pull it all together.

Just as I thought the whole zine was going to be composed solely of writing by me and Larry, a bunch of other stuff fell in place. I’m still worried that the big pieces are there, but the small bits that really make a zine readable aren’t there. I also have very little writing in this next issue, and all of my stuff is recycled. It’s been hard to write anything new, even though I have a bunch of projects on my back and I probably could sit and just work on other responsibilities for a month straight.

I bought a Commodore 64 the other day. I don’t have it yet, it should show up on Monday or so. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the net, and trying to pull together some games and stuff. I have about 3 or 4 carts that I rescued from my mom’s house, and I probably have some other stuff lying around her basement. It’s fun to think about – I got my first C-64 for Christmas during the 8th grade, and spent ALL of my time with it. Before that, I had an Aquarius with 4K of RAM, no tape drive, no disk drive, no printer, a chicklet keyboard, a horrible BASIC, and NO place to buy any accessories or documentation for it. I pushed that thing to the limit, which wasn’t hard. It was pure joy going to the 64, with way more memory, good graphics, excellent sound, standard joystick ports, lots of magazines and software available, and lots of programmability. I never got the disk drive, which was my one big downfall – I did all of my work on a tape drive. But I had friends with 64’s and we’d copy games onto tape, and I’d spend forever writing stuff in BASIC. It’ll be nice to toy around with this new machine. I even got a disk drive, too. Maybe I’ll sit down and try to write that adventure game parser, now that I have a bunch of CS classes behind me.


Caffeine sickness

It has been 4 days without caffeine now. That’s not entirely true – I have been drinking a half glass of Coke in the morning to ward off the horrific headaches. Yesterday I didn’t get a headache, but today I did. I’m hoping that if I make it through the weekend, I’ll be fine. But I’ve been having strange hallucinations. Not the bugs and locusts kind of thing, but I see somebody and I think they are somebody else. Like I see a too-strong resembelance between someone in the grocery store and someone famous. I do that a lot when I am really sleepy, but now I do it all the time. I am hoping that after the withdrawl goes away and the energy from eating real food kicks in, I will balance out a bit.

I’ve been listening to this Shadowfax CD that reminds me a lot of the summer 4 years ago. I lived in Elkhart, but worked so much I didn’t really notice the city. When I have time to mess around in that city, like on a vacation, I really notice all of the things that are different or gone. But that summer, a lot of my surroundings just felt the same as when I was in high school. For a big part of the summer, I worked two full-time jobs and slept a couple of hours a week. Those five days, I’d be perpetually covered with grease, oil, dirt, metal filings, cardboard dust, or whatever. But on the weekends, I’d sleep in, take a long shower to get decent, and sit around listening either to metal or to new age or ambient stuff, while I ate real food that didn’t come off of a break truck and do a little writing.

I had two dreams at that point – one was to go back to Bloomington and move into a really nice apartment, and get some good furniture on the cheap, and have a real place to live. I spent two years living in a boardinghouse apartment about as big as a walk in closet, and wanted more. I wanted to be able to invite over 10 people, cook a dinner, and watch some movies with plenty of room. I spent my few odd moments that summer rounding up furniture: a new bed, a new couch, a new chair, a new computer table. Well, not all of it was new – but the new stuff was discounted through my mom’s job as a decorator or my job at Monkey Ward’s. So I collected the furniture in the basement and daydreamed of having some posh living quarters after I moved.

Incidentally, I have almost none of this furniture, except a nightstand and a small halogen lamp. I sold almost all of it when I moved to Seattle.

The second thing was not my girlfriend, although I did spend a lot of time daydreaming about her while she was in Tampa, Florida. I guess the second thing varied. One week, I would think about buying a car. The next, it would be a 20,000 CD collection. I did not have a major in college that summer, and I thought about what I would do. I wanted to somehow get involved at NASA, and thought that maybe there would be some kind of technical writing gig there. I also wanted to start another magazine for a while, or do some other writing for bands. It always changed, which means I can sort of map the different things to the different points in time over the summer.

I shot 5 or 10 rolls of film on this new camera I bought that summer, partially intending to send photos to my girlfriend, and partially because I wanted to learn how to use a camera for art and journalism purposes. I took a lot of photos of me and my house and my back yard, and some of friends like Ray and Tom. Not only was this project one of the only ones with a concrete result that I still have today, but the photos are all indelible references to the past.


My girlfriend wants to join a suicide cult

I’m trying to wean myself off of caffeine and it’s killing me. I had one can of Coke yesterday, and about a half glass thismorning. Some of this diet change is okay – it’s nice to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, and I feel a lot better when I’m not eating processed foods. But the no-Coke thing is a crippler. I did sleep like a baby last night, but I had a horrendous headache in the morning.

I’ve been listening to Miles Davis all afternoon. There’s a role model for perfection. Well, except the heroin and insanity. He jammed with about everybody, put out all of these albums, improv-ed the most incredible stuff, and really WORKED. I wish I could write books like Miles recorded albums, that’s all I have to say.

The Church of Euthanasia was on Jerry Springer last night. It was pretty stupid – they titled it “my girlfriend wants to join a suicide cult” or something lame like that, and made it sound like the COE was kidnapping babies from airports or something. Then they had some group on that bombed abortion clinics and wanted to hijack nuclear weapons in order to get the government to kill all homosexuals. It was a little too far out there, and involved a lot of shouting. Pretty lame. Also, I was watching public access and I think I saw a show get shut down. They were showing some porno, and then the cameras turned and I saw a brief glimpse of a cop, and then it all went blank. I thought it might be fake, and they’d be back on again saying “ha ha, we’re in jail” or something, but they didn’t. It happened mid-show, too – maybe 10 minutes into a half hour slot. Weird.


Argument of diet and food

I’m once again in the middle of this argument of diet and food, but the stakes are somewhat raised. I went to my doctor today and he said the symptoms I described could be the beginning of gallbladder disease, and he wants me to see a GI specialist. Of course, the problem could just be stress and poor diet, but better safe than sorry. In the meantime, I am scared into straightening up my act. I have avoided some foods, like pizza and many fast foods, but it’s time to really figure out what I can and can’t eat from here on out.

There are a lot of problems with this whole scheme. If I could afford it and stomach it, it would be nice to just go to McDonald’s every night. No hot ovens in my already broiling summer apartment, no cooking, no extra portions to rot in my fridge, no work, no wasted time. But I realize that a Big Mac or two a day will kill me in short order. Although it is nice and convenient for me to go to Burger King, it’s a death wish. Plus, I can’t stomach the stuff anymore anyway. I spend $5 on a burger and I can only eat a third of it before my stomach hurts and I need to quit.

I’ve had better luck with some cafeterias or restaurants if I don’t get the fried foods. A careful Denny’s order or a dinner at some place like MCL usually doesn’t harm me. But then I might be paying $8 for a grilled cheese sandwich, and it takes so long to drive there, wait in line, wait for food, etc, that I might as well just cook my own grilled cheese.

So why don’t I cook? Feeding one person is harder than feeding four, and possibly more expensive. If you go out and buy some casserole or follow a recipe, you end up with 4-6 times more food than you want, and you probably spend more than you would with that $2.99 McValue meal. Then you either have to invite over friends (I have none) or store the food for later in the week (and I will be bored of that food, so I will never eat it and it will rot). Cooking is a lot of work, as is the planning and shopping for the meals. And when you come home ready to fall asleep, it’s easy to derail all of that planning.

Some foods are easy to cook and store, and I wish I knew more of them. I want to get some book without some hokey dieting agenda like eating 42 cauliflower a day or something. I save money when I cook, and I save even more when I can buy in bulk and store the stuff for later.

I guess there are other dietary concerns for me too. Questions like: should I eat meat? Should I drink coke? I need to work out the basics like eating 3 meals a day and getting in the right nutrition though.

I’m just worried that I will obsess over this like I do over everything, and I’ll spend 24 hours a day counting calories. I’m already obsessing too much, as I’ve filled this entire journal page with stupid bullshit about my eating habits. Oh well.



William S. Burroughs died on Saturday (8/2). I heard about it Sunday, but all of my friends are e-mailing me today to ask me if I’ve heard about it, or to get my reaction, or something. It’s not a big deal to me, but it is strange. I cared enough about him to read through _Literary Outlaw_, his bible-sized biography. I guess I am just not into the whole cult worship thing like some people. There are probably people who cried about this even though they never read a book of his, just because he did a record with Kurt Cobain or something.

WSB’s life was something that motivates me, and a few years ago, it made me want to leave and write and everything else. And the movie _Naked Lunch_ has a certain amount of meaning to me. But I have to admit I haven’t read any of his “core” books like Naked Lunch or Nova Express. I own them, but I’ve never been able toget into them. I should try again someday, but too many other things going on..


Finished paper journal

I finished a paper journal last night. It was one of those Mead 120 page, 3 subject deals. I started it on December 6? or 9 maybe, and finished last night. I’m not writing as much these days – I need to change that. I’ve been wandering so much from my intended “mission” as a writer, trying to find that something that’s missing in life. I always pick up these stupid hobbies, thinking that watercolor or a camcorder or model rockets or whatever else will somehow make me complete. Most of them just make me completely broke. Last night, I read my first paper journal and thought about how things have changed and not changed in the last three years. I wanted to get out of IU and find some place to settle down and write. I remember thinking about how I could work for a year and then wander the world in a beat up van, writing and living. I guess I don’t want to do that anymore, but I’m in the same position as I was back then, with a mound of bills and living paycheck to paycheck with a job that could vanish at any moment. I know I’ve done a lot of things to further my life in other ways, but when it comes down to the writing, I’m still doing the same thing…

I have done a lot of writing over the last few years, stuff like the zine, and the rough drafts of the books. I just want a bunch of complete writing – finished drafts, published issues of the zine. I want to put out as much cohesive stuff as possible.

I’m babbling. About my new journal – mead put out a black cover of my standard notebook, which is new. I’m used to red, blue, green. I won’t be able to write the dates on the cover with a black marker though. Maybe I can buy a silver marker.


quick thoughts on music

Quick thoughts – I have been listening to more death metal, especially before work every morning. At first, it made me uneasy – I choose to listen to the speed and type of music based on my mood. Like if I am lying in bed at 2am and wanting to sleep soon, I might listen to Brian Eno, but not Motorhead. But it works in reverse – if I listen to Dismember before work, it keeps me from being slow and passive. I have this fear that I have become such a slow working person, both at work and at home, that I spend 20 hours a day being lazy and the other 4 doing an hour of work. Listening to unholy satanic death metal seems to artificially raise my metabolism a bit.

I don’t remember my other thought, but I’ve got a meeting now.